David Stout Attacks Court Officers

David Stout, 1667 (?) – 1732

As I have written about the descendants of Richard Stout, I have indicated what generation they belong to, and just published an index of my Stout family articles. I am now doubling back to look at my final direct ancestor, David Stout, from Generation Two.

At first glance, my seven x great-grandfather seems to have lived a pretty ordinary farmer’s life in New Jersey. His farm stood near brothers and sisters on land deeded to them by their father. However, David Stout and other relatives lived through what was known as the Provincial Revolt. That period of unrest reached its peak between 1667 and 1700. We know that frustration drew David into at least one incident that pushed him to unlawful acts.

Once again, thanks to studying the lives of ancestors, I learned about an obscure piece of American history. But first, the everyday life of David Stout.

David Stout, 5th Son of Richard

Listed next to last on Richard’s will and other legal papers, it seems probable that David Stout was the next to last child of Richard and Penelope Stout. Like his older brother Jonathan and younger brother Benjamin, David was born after the family had settled in Middletown New Jersey. The first seven brothers and sisters had been born in Long Island.

We know that these three younger children were born after the distribution of land of the Monmouth Patent in 1665, as they are not mentioned in that document.

Marries and Starts a Family

According to the early genealogy of the Stout Family by Nathan Stout, David married Rebecca Ashton in 1688 when he was 21 and she was 16. (Their birth dates exist in the U.S. and International Marriage Records Index found at Ancestry.com)

Rebecca and David, with several other Stout family members, were active in the Middletown Baptist Church. Rebecca’s father served as the first minister in that church largely founded by members of the Stout family.

On Rebecca’s mother’s side, she descended from a distinguished lineage that traces back to the Plantagenent Age in England. Although I have few details about Rebecca’s own life, I will be writing about her grandparents, John and Rebecca Ferrand Throckmorton, my 9th great-grandparents. Their family life parallels David Stout’s family life in a surprising way.

Like his father, Richard Sr., David amassed farmland in New Jersey. Unlike his father, he did not seem to hold many public offices. However, he did, we shall learn, take part in civic activities.

The birth pattern of Rebecca and David’s seven children follows a familiar pattern to other Colonial families we have looked at. Babies came along every two years at first. The exception–a 4 year gap between James and Joseph and a six year gap before the youngest, Benjamin, was born.

  • Sarah 1689- ?
  • Rebecca 1691-1772
  • *Freegift 1693-1768
  • James Sr. 1694-1730
  • David Jr. 1695-1778
  • Joseph 1698-1770
  • Deliverance 1701- ?
  • Benjamin 1707-1789

*My 6 x great grandfather.

David moved from Middletown to farmland near Amwell in Hunterdon County either “after both his daughter Rebecca and son James had married” (about 1714), or “about 1725.” The notation in Historical and Genealogical Miscellany contains contradictory statements. However, he spent the rest of his life on that farm, and was buried there in 1732.

Riotous Assembly

At any rate, David Stout was presumably still living in Middletown in the summer of 1700, when he got into a spot of trouble. The story that follows illustrates that life was not all peaceful and bucolic in the “English” part of New Jersey, known at that time as East Jersey. David and his brothers and several sisters and their husbands lived around Middletown and Shrewsbury in East Jersey.

Court Records from Monmouth County dated 27 August 1700, show that the Grand Jury called forth Richard Salter, John Bray, James Stout, David Stout, Benjamin Stout [my emphasis], Cornelius Compton, William Boune (Bowne), Thomas Taylor, Thomas Hankison, Jacob Vindorne, Ariam Bennett, Thomas Sharp, Benjamin Cook, Robert Innes, Thomas Estel and Samuel, a servant to Salter.

The charge: “Riotously assembly on the 17th day of July and assaulting John Stewart, high Sherriff and Henry Leonard on the path near the house of Alexander Adam, beat and grievously wounded the said persons, took their swords from them, carry’d them away and Kept them to the value of five pounds money of this province.”

The Causes

What on earth could possess these pious, hard-working farmers to become a mob? Why did they attack court officials by torchlight on the dirt side streets of Middletown? Why would David, already a father of five children, ranging from two to eleven years, old risk his life? I can hear Rebecca’s pleas to him to not put their family at risk this way.

I will lay the groundwork by explaining more about the Provincial Revolt in my next post. It touches on the ownership of land in the colony, on governance by those purporting to be the King’s representatives. It joins a long string of actions and counter-actions between two factions. The people of Middletown and Shrewsbury, the Monmouth Patent area, refused to swear allegiance to English lords who now claimed the right to collect rent from the colonists.

The Governor’s Council sent officers of the court to force the residents of the two towns to swear allegiance and pay rent. David Stout and two brothers who lived nearby, James and Benjamin, plus his nephew William Bowne, joined ringleaders Richard Salter and John Bray and others to run the rent collectors out of town. Then they beat them, took their swords and ransomed them for five pounds.

Prejudice against Scots, and particular hatred of the present Governor , Col. Andrew Hamilton (a Scot ) no doubt helped rouse the townfolk. Their town had voted not to cooperate. The situation had become so serious that the Governor himself led a troop into Middletown two days after the attack on the officers of the court. The townspeople saw that group of armed men under Col. Hamilton as a mob endangering the safety of the locals. They gathered with sticks, swords and guns. The governor gave up and withdrew.

The Struggle for Independence

The author of The History of Monmouth County draws an interesting conclusion. The people of Middletown and Shrewsbury actually gained independence more than fifty years before the American Revolution. The King’s men gave up trying to get them to comply with imposed rents on their property. They were technically free of obligation to the King’s officers.

I read the account of the trial of the Middletown Sixteen (my own coinage), but I never did learn the outcome. As you will see in my next post, this was neither the first nor the last incidence of violence during the Provincial Revolt. The rebellion against authority went so far as to defend a pirate.

I can see now that David and Rebecca had more to worry about than the effect of the weather on their farm. Perhaps David withdrew from active protests after this incident, because although his brothers show up in other court papers, he does not.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran (Doc) Stout, who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1822), who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1800), who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1773) who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1740) who is the son of
  • Freegift Stout , who is the son of
  • David Stout.

Notes on Research

History of Monmouth County, Franklin Ellis, Philadelphia PA: R T Peck and Company, 1885. Entire text is available at archive.org This book contains detailed court records including the story above.

Historic and Genealogical Miscellany : Data Relating to the Settlement and Settlers of New York and New Jersey, Vol. IV , John Stillwell, M.D. New York, NY: Self-published, 1903. This entire text is available at archive.org The book contains family trees as well as legal documents from New Jersey covering a multitude of information.

The History of the Stout Family; First Settling in Middleton, Monmouth, New Jersey, by Nathan Stout, self published 1823. Accessed at Family Search.org

Stout and Allied Families, Herald Stout. San Diego, CA: Self Published, 1968. Filmed by Archive.org

U. S. Find a Grave, David Stout, 1667-1732

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3 thoughts on “David Stout Attacks Court Officers

  1. Pingback: Stout Brothers Rescue a Pirate - Ancestors in Aprons

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